Returning memories of 2001, Andy Priaulx secured pole position for the maiden race of his Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship comeback during qualifying at Brands Hatch’s Indy circuit.
The 30-minute qualifying session was held in the best conditions of the day at the Kent circuit, where it was the triple World Touring Car Champion that welcomed himself back to BTCC in the best fashion possible thanks to a superlative 48.411s lap.
19 cars were covered by a second, Priaulx instantly showing his pace for West Surrey Racing in the BMW 125i M-Sport by edging out a trio of BMR Racing Volkswagen CCs in a 10-minute dash for the top spot.
Priaulx held that after snatching the advantage from Colin Turkington within the final 15 minutes, before a delay in proceedings was caused when the front-left wheel of Martin Depper‘s Eurotech Racing Honda Civic made a bid for freedom at Druids.
A 10-minute shootout was the conclusion after Depper’s machine was cleared, the 1.2-mile Indy circuit fairly crowded as 24 runners fought over their grid positions for the opening race of the season.
The crammed circuit almost claimed Gordon Shedden‘s Honda first of all, the Scot’s first effort ruined by a wide moment through the Paddock Hill Bend gravel trap.
For a moment it seemed as though WSR would be celebrating further as Rob Collard moved into the top three, but it was BMR Racing that were the biggest threats to Priaulx’s time as Aron Smith put his two team-mates in the shade by going second ahead of Jason Plato and reigning champion, Turkington.
Collard was next up in another WSR BMW, the team now a Constructor entry for 2015, while a late effort from Triple Eight‘s new recruit, Jack Goff, netted the former BMR man sixth on the grid in the MG6 GT after an early off at McLaren.
Shedden ended as top Honda for the Yuasa Racing team on their new Civic Type-R’s debut, Sam Tordoff next up in the third WSR BMW having led early in the running. Tom Ingram again showcased Speedworks‘ improvements in ninth, Andrew Jordan starting 10th for MG a year after he clinched pole position at the same venue.
Matt Neal was one of many to be hampered by traffic during the session and finished 11th overall ahead of Adam Morgan‘s Mercedes A-Class, Mike Bushell top rookie in 18th place for AmD Tuning while Josh Cook met the barriers at the final corner on his way to 20th place for Power Maxed Racing.
Warren Scott was one of the absentees from the session, his BMR Volkswagen CC unable to be repaired from his second practice shunt, while Andy Wilmot ended his session early in the Proton Gen-2 after qualifying 26th.
Brands Hatch Indy Qualifying Times
|1||111||Andy Priaulx||Team IHG Rewards Club||48.411s|
|5||6||Robert Collard||JCT600 Racing with GardX||48.562s|
|6||31||Jeff Goff||MG 888 Racing||48.599s|
|7||52||Gordon Shedden||Honda Yuasa Racing||48.608s|
|8||7||Sam Tordoff||JCT600 Racing with GardX||48.631s|
|9||80||Tom Ingram||Speedworks Motorsport||48.643s|
|10||77||Andrew Jordan||MG 888 Racing||48.656s|
|11||25||Matt Neal||Honda Yuasa Racing||48.694s|
|12||33||Adam Morgan||Wix Racing||48.717s|
|13||101||Rob Austin||Exocet Alco Sense||48.895s|
|14||17||Dave Newsham||Power Maxed Racing||48.911s|
|15||16||Aiden Moffat||Laser Tools Racing||48.931s|
|16||54||Hunter Abbott||Exocet Alco Sense||48.964s|
|17||55||Jeff Smith||Eurotech Racing||49.101s|
|18||21||Mike Bushell||AmO Tuning.com||49.367s|
|19||30||Martin Depper||Eurotech Racing||49.492s|
|20||66||Josh Cook||Power Maxed Racing||49.517s|
|21||14||Alex Martin||Dextra Racing||49.575s|
|22||11||Simon Belcher||Handy Motorsport||49.633s|
|23||95||Stewart Lines||Houseman Racing||50.596s|
|24||22||Derek Palmer||Infiniti Support Our Troops Racing||50.609s|
|25||23||Kieran Gallagher||RCIB Insurance Racing||50.762s|
|26||12||Andy Wilmot||Welch Motorsport||52.665s|
|27||39||Warren Scott||BMR||No Time|